I is for

Institute

I is for

Institute

Conversation with Luca Lo Pinto, Kunsthalle Wien

Alex Klein

What is your role at the Kunsthalle Wien, and how long have you been there?

Luca Lo Pinto

I’ve been working as a curator here since May 2014, when Nicolaus Schafhausen was the director. He was appointed in 2012, and resigned two years before the end of his contract. Only recently the collective WHW (What, How & for Whom) were appointed as the new co-directors, which is interesting.

AK

Is Nicolaus already gone, or is he still there and getting ready to leave?

LLP

Nicolaus has physically left, but the program for 2019 is still under his tenure.

AK

Has the new directorial team arrived, or are they still in transition?

LLP

They will begin in June.

AK

I’d like to return to this transition in a bit. When was the organization founded?

LLP

Kunsthalle Wien was founded in 1992, and is entirely funded by the city of Vienna. In the beginning—after a short tenure by Toni Stooss—Gerald Matt was Director for many years, and originally the Kunsthalle was in Karlsplatz, a very central venue in the middle of Vienna, in front of the Secession. It was a temporary container, a strong and prominent piece of architecture, and it was fairly contemporary for its time and in the context of Vienna. The Kunsthalle is a non-collecting institution, so the program was mainly focused on exhibitions, screenings, and talks. It was full of activities because there were tons of small projects at the time. In 2001, the Kunsthalle partly moved to a new location in the Museumsquartier, an area where many different institutions are located, like the Leopold Museum and the mumok. It’s a complex of buildings built in the early eighteenth century as Vienna’s imperial stables.

AK

Famous for the Lipizzaner horses.

LLP

Yes. The Museumsquartier is now the main site of the Kunsthalle Wien, and we have two exhibition spaces there. One is 1000 square meters, and the other is roughly 600 square meters. What was once the former container in Karlsplatz is now transformed into a glass pavilion. Part of it is a bar/restaurant and half of it is for exhibitions. So, the exhibitions take place in two venues, but now there’s actually three different spaces.

AK

Right, and physically they’re not so close to each other. How long does it take to go between the two venues?

LLP

It’s roughly ten minutes walking distance.

AK

I’m assuming the space in the Museumsquartier expanded the exhibition space significantly?

LLP

I wasn’t here before the move, but I went through the archives. My impression is that there were many different projects that Nicolaus streamlined when he began. With two venues, we can obviously hold more exhibitions, but we also invest a lot of energy and resources into festivals and talks, so-called “public programs.” They’re not just exhibition-related programs, but also projects and think tanks in themselves, which are sort of independent from the exhibitions. We have an excellent education department, and also a dramaturgy department, which works on the discursive content relating to the exhibitions, including talks and performances.

Laurel McLaughlin

What was the impetus for the founding of Kunsthalle Wien? Did it have any relationship to the Secession building? Was it in reaction to, or thinking alongside the Secession, given its architectural placement?

LLP

I don’t know how they decided on the specific location to build the Kunsthalle, to be honest. I think it’s related to the fact that in the beginning of the 1990s, at least in Europe, several museums and art institutions were created. Maybe that’s the reason they opted for such a particular architecture—you can find some images on the internet of how it looked before. The yellow façade really stood out, especially considering its surroundings. The whole Museumsquartier idea is something that is also connected to a certain time in Europe, and Vienna especially is a city that has changed a lot in the last 15 years. There was a huge public investment in improving the city’s infrastructure. In the last six years, Vienna has been declared the city with the highest quality of life worldwide. In the end, it’s a small city, but you have lots of institutions; if you go to Vienna, the Kunsthalle might be the last institution you visit because there are such fantastic museums. I guess a contemporary art institution was missing in the early 1990s.

AK

I always think of the Secession building as having an artist-centric, contemporary focus, so it’s interesting to think of the energy surrounding the Kunsthalle’s founding. Fast-forward to the present, I’m curious how the ecology of arts institutions has changed over time and where Kunsthalle Wien fits in. Who are you in dialogue with in the city?

LLP

If we’re discussing the ecology or landscape of institutions, you have the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Belvedere, the Leopold Museum, and the Albertina Museum—which has one of the most extraordinary collections in terms of drawings. Then in terms of contemporary art institutions, you have the Belvedere’s 21er Haus/House 21, a building devoted to their contemporary art program. The Secession, which is still a unique example of an artist-run institution, is supported by public money, but its board is made up entirely of artists.

At the Kunsthalle, we try to address a young and diverse audience. We primarily have a local audience, but with a strong international presence. The program, of course, is connected to the individual direction, but on the whole, I believe most people tend to consider institutions regardless of the director or the team who work there. In the end, I think it’s still connected. If you look at the program under Gerald Matt and then under Nicolaus Schafhausen, you can really see that they are different. We made a big effort, especially with the education department, to be inclusive of people that don’t go to museums or visit contemporary art institutions very often. We had collaborations with NGOs developing special programs for refugees, and of course we work a lot with schools. For example, we’re going to open an exhibition curated by the education department. It is a continuation of a project from last year, called Space for Kids. This is a good example of the kinds of investment the institution makes towards these types of activities. They are not only workshop-based, but also devote a slot of the exhibition program to kids connecting contemporary art with diverse activities. I think it’s great—it’s rare that you visit an exhibition in a museum or a kunsthalle and see a proper exhibition that reflects this “in-between” model.

AK

In an institution you often see hierarchical relationships between those entities. Taking a step back, what is the staff size of the Kunsthalle Wien, and what percentage of that is the curatorial team?

LLP

The current staff number at the Kunsthalle is 41. We have three curators, but very often, Nicolaus, the former director, would curate shows, as would Vanessa Joan Müller, who’s Head of Dramaturgy. It’s very flexible—there isn’t a rigid structure, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that a curator has to do a certain number of exhibitions. We do what we find interesting or what we feel should be addressed now. This is the type of thinking that leads the programs, and I think it’s a great advantage when working in this type of institution. Sometimes this type of flexibility can even be too much; we don’t have that much time to prepare exhibitions, and we work on several projects at the same time. Things can change, but this is what I personally like. It’s very much based on impulse.

AK

How does that work in terms of getting exhibitions on the calendar? Can you really come to the table and say, “This is what I want to do,” and someone says, “Yes, go for it,”? How does the program take shape?

LLP

We have ongoing conversations, and of course, we have regular meetings where we sit down and each person proposes projects and shares ideas. Each of us on the team can put forth proposals, and I think it’s a great method. It’s realized in an internal way. Of course, sometimes there are certain issues that we want to address, or certain positions to focus on. For me, it is important to reflect on what to show and to work with artists that have been underrepresented. We’ve done a number of group exhibitions. I mainly focus on survey exhibitions for artists who have never had them. I’m always thinking about how to rethink this type of exhibition so that it’s not a retrospective per se, but a result of working with an artist to experiment with the exhibition as a medium. That’s an essential thing for me.

Tausif Noor

How many exhibitions does the Kunsthalle do a year—is it fixed?

LLP

It’s always changing, but in general around 15.

AK

Does that include the former container space?

LLP

Yes, including the glass pavilion at Karlsplatz.

LM

What’s the breakdown between the types of shows that are in the container space and in the main exhibition space? Is the Karlsplatz pavilion space a project space for commissions?

LLP

No, we treat the space in Karlsplatz just like the others. It’s not defined as a project space, so it’s not an exception compared to the other venue in the Museumsquartier. In the last year we’ve had very different projects in the space, from group exhibitions to solo projects of emerging artists with newly commissioned works.

AK

A glass pavilion has a different kind of publicness than the other spaces. I’m wondering if that figures into the considerations of what kinds of shows go there, because there’s an inside/outside dimension to it.

LLP

Yes, of course, the architecture plays a crucial role in the making of the exhibitions, especially for a solo exhibition. The artist has to work in what is virtually the opposite of a neutral space. On one hand, it’s super visible because it’s in the center of Vienna. At the same time, because you have to go through the café to enter the space, it’s not really as accessible. There’s been an ongoing discussion about how to improve and make the space more approachable to the public. Several artists have worked with the façade and have realized interventions to use the external part, as a way to go beyond a voyeuristic experience.

Vienna is a city with such rich offerings of culture—not only art, but also cinema and theater—that the local community, in a way, is not always so interested. It’s like going home to find a large table full of food every night. They’re not starving because there is so much, and that’s a bit strange sometimes, because everything here has strong public financing. Vienna, and Austria in general, is a country with a very strong welfare system, so it’s sort of the last place for this type of cultural policy. Things will change and are changing.

TN

Because the Kunsthalle Wien is publicly financed, do you have any obligations to do shows specifically of Austrian artists? Are there any requirements or restrictions in terms of your exhibition program, or do you have complete freedom?

LLP

No, we have complete freedom, honestly. In the last few years, we’ve received complaints, especially from the press, about the lack of Austrian artists in the program. But we’ve never had any obligations. The former cultural attaché of the city always supported the program, as does the current one. We’ve never had obligations or pressure. But, as you know, when you work in a city, this is a typical political complaint that you hear.

AK

That’s interesting. Is there a kind of artist that the Kunsthalle Wien sees as a “Kunsthalle Wien artist?” Are there any rules, or do you mostly work with living artists? What is the mission of the program artistically?

LLP

We mostly work with living artists, being a kunsthalle and not a museum, although this difference is collapsing more and more, for me. We’ve had several exhibitions on historical artists rather than younger positions, which again, for the press, is going against the identity of a kunsthalle. I think the main mission of Kunsthalle Wien is to develop a program that questions itself and the world surrounding it. It’s the role of an institution today, with its local and international communities, to be close to the most relevant issues of our time and present condition. Maybe this sounds very abstract—maybe all the people that you’ve talked with repeat things along these lines, and maybe it’s what you find written on the websites of all the institutions—but for me it’s about what you do, not just what it says in the mission statement.

Especially in the last few months, there have been very strong attacks from the press against Nicolaus Schafhausen, claiming mostly that the Kunsthalle has very few visitors. We have roughly 70,000 visitors per year and compared to the previous director, we’re under that figure. Frustratingly, the storytelling is always about visitor numbers and money without focusing on the content. We have Pay as You Wish on Sunday, for example, and as an offering to students and older people there are reduced ticket options. So, there is a strong will to be inclusive, but sometimes this is not recognized, especially on a local level.

TN

In the same vein, I was interested in your thoughts regarding the Identitarian movement in Austria and its relationship to art institutions. The Identiarians often point to the collections of historical art institutions to mobilize support for a purportedly “classical” European past and white identity-based politics. I wonder if you’ve come across that as a contemporary institution that strives to be inclusive. Has this rhetoric threatened, or influenced, your work at all?

LLP

Of course. What you describe is something I’ve felt very strongly since I moved here. But with the new government, you also start to feel how certain things are changing. I want to underscore that when you talk about Vienna, it’s important to remember that we still have a social-democratic government. In a way, for the Viennese, it seems that they are detached from the rest of Austria. Many feel like they’re in a protected island, and this is very bad and even dangerous, because Vienna is, of course, part of Austria—this is what people tend to forget. For example, we just opened a solo exhibition by Peter Friedl, an Austrian artist who makes strong political statements as a part of his practice, but he’s also someone who left Austria because he was not comfortable with all of this, and he seems right considering the new populist and nationalist government that has been gradually gaining prominence. There are several NGOs currently being shut down by the government, so you start to feel this on a very practical level. At the same time, we never felt any pressure in terms of our program, because, as I said, the city is still governed by social democrats. I guess maybe this is all connected to some of the reasons why Schaufhausen left.

AK

That was my next question.

LLP

It’s not so much about the actual situation right now, but it’s more to do with the climate. And that’s indicative of what is happening. For him to do this in advance was a way of making a statement.

AK

It sounds like it wasn’t in response to any kind of censorship being exerted on the institution, but more a statement in anticipation of what might be coming your way.

LLP

Yes, absolutely.

AK

Except, of course, we’re feeling it everywhere. It’s not just Austria.

LLP

Of course.

AK

Were there a lot of internal discussions about that when he made the announcement? It’s also really nice that he did that two years out, so there’s a chance for you all to plan and think about what that means as an institution.

LLP

Honestly, it came a bit out of the blue. It was a shock for all of us. At the same time, most of us—though I don’t want to speak for everyone—kind of agreed and identified with what he said. Most of the people working at the Kunsthalle Wien are Austrian or German-speaking, and me not speaking German, I always feel like I’m a guest in a place where there is a gap of communication because of the language. But the positive aspect is that we’re emphasizing the necessity to really question who we are what are our positions are.

This is a crucial question, especially in Europe. The whole idea of public art institutions was strongly supported between the end of the 1970s and early 1980s. Think about France with Jack Lang, the Minister for Culture and Communication, and his idea of decentralizing institutions from Paris with the creation of FRACS in every region in order to build a collection. Or Germany, with the kunstverein or kunsthalle model. It felt urgent to provide art spaces to different communities, and I believe now all of this is under discussion in the sense that for many politicians, in comparison to dance or theater, there is less of a necessity to provide public support to contemporary art. The current stories about contemporary art always seem to be concerned with money, and this was never the case 30, 40, or 50 years ago. So saying, “OK, the Kunsthalle Wien gets almost four million euro from the city of Vienna…”

AK

So your operating budget is around four million a year?

LLP

Yes, all inclusive. So, if someone asks, “Why should we invest four million euro in the Kunsthalle Wien instead of building a hospital?” you have to be able to defend your position. And this is an incredibly significant thing, because it goes back to some fundamental questions: What do I do? Where am I? What is important for others, and what might be interesting for this community or another community? These are sometimes abstract thoughts, and they’re not always easy to find a path. Of course, my position as curator is different from being a director, but I do question myself all the time. Sometimes I think that maybe certain issues can’t be addressed in the art world in a substantial way. So, it’s an ongoing and necessary quest.

Of course, the great advantage, as I said, is to not have a permanent collection, and therefore there are more possibilities and opportunities to experiment. It’s very important if you have this mindset. But more and more the whole idea of having this rich landscape of institutions in both big and small cities across Europe is really at risk. New models should be and need to be invented. If we’re going to develop projects that are independent of the market, we need to have public support. You have to work with universities. So maybe it’s interesting to think between models—perhaps something that could be developed within a university program with exhibitions, lectures, and workshops. This is something that I’ve been thinking about every day, and for me, in the last few years, it became much more pressing than in the years before. This is a model that is completely different from the American one.

AK

Yes. Funding is something that I don’t like to think about, but it shapes so much of what we do and how we do it. In the American model, you’re running after money all the time. At ICA we have partial funding from the university, but we’re always applying for grants, and doing fundraisers, and recruiting donors, so for a lot of curators that work at museums or kunsthalles in the United States, a large part of their job is taken up by development work. It sounds like having this public money takes the pressure off of you in that respect, but maybe it puts a different kind of pressure on you to reflect about the civic nature of what you’re doing. And maybe, as you said so eloquently, to articulate its value for society. I think this is happening in different ways within American institutions, perhaps in some part as a result of the funding structures.

I’m also curious to hear how that questioning is reflected within this new directorial model that you are pursing as an institution. Were you involved in the search? Were the curators involved in the discussion, and what are you anticipating with a collective at the helm?

LLP

I wasn’t involved in the process, but it was interesting that the application included collectives as candidates. I don’t know if this is common in the U.S.?

AK

No, we tend to have a top-down, corporate kind of model—basically with one person at the top and then everyone else. Some smaller institutions are starting to think about horizontal relationships and how there can be co-directorial positions, but it’s not common, especially not in larger institutions.

LLP

I don’t know of many examples of institutions with a collective as an artistic director, so I think it’s a novelty. In general, it’s notable that WHW were appointed right after the news of Documenta having a collective curate the next iteration. It mirrors the shape of our time. It’s a decision that, for me, should be heavily supported by politics. The WHW need to be protected, otherwise there’s the risk that they’ll be instrumentalized. The exhibitions they developed in Zagreb were committed to social and political impulses. The decision to hire them was also a statement by the city of Vienna.

I think it’s vital that this idea is supported, because if you make this type of decision and then let it go, it might not be productive for anyone. I don’t know exactly what their precise ideas are in terms of implementing changes at the institution, because we haven’t had a chance to get to know one another yet, but reshuffling the institution completely could be interesting. For example, rethinking the format of an institution with different slots of time for a number of exhibtions. You could “delete” this idea entirely, and choose not to focus on exhibitions at all. This is something that you don’t see in major institutions, and why not?

AK

Right.

LLP

It’s kind of taboo. It touches the inner nerves of everyone, including us.

AK

Sure, you’re curators. You want to make your shows.

LLP

Not just the curators, but everyone working in an institution. If you work in an institution, you tend to assume that your job is built around exhibitions, and each person is doing it in a different way according to their individual tasks. Personally, I find it interesting to think about how far we could go. Are exhibitions still an interesting tool or format to talk about certain issues, or not? Maybe we should focus on other types of tools and platforms? Personally speaking, I still do believe that the exhibition is a fantastic medium, and still has a lot of potential to be developed further, especially together with artists. The whole point is working closely with artists. I do what I do because of them. For example, it would be great to have institutions that have artists working at all of the different positions. Instead of having a marketing person coming from marketing studies, why not an artist? And same with the press. Everything.

When I say this, it’s to really push things forward. Not necessarily having positions limited to postgraduates, the institution as curatorial school with a press release. For me, working in an institution has been remarkable because I’ve also always worked as a freelance curator. When you start to work in institutions, you realize that it’s not quite so obvious what you might take for granted in terms of freedom; for example, the decision to have a wall label, or being able to change things over the course of the exhibition. These are things that you have to constantly discuss and negotiate with others. So, you see the pros and cons of an institution. If you want to improvise certain things, you are welcome, but only if the improvisation is planned. That’s something I don’t like. It should not be seen as a radical position if an artist decides to change an exhibition two hours before an opening, because sometimes it’s just part of the work and reflects an artist’s practice.

AK

Earlier you had started to articulate the difference between a kunsthalle and a museum. I think of museums as things that are more staid and sedate, and kunsthalles as having the possibility, at least, to have a fluidity built into them, even if that is not always the reality. But I’d love to use that as an opportunity to hear a little bit more about your position and your background in publishing. You have a very interesting perspective informed by other things that you do and have done previously. It seems like this shapes your curatorial work and approach. Do you still work between Rome and Vienna?

LLP

Yes, I commute between Vienna and Rome. I studied art history at the University in Rome. Together with three friends, I founded a magazine, which has been free since the beginning. Later this magazine, called NERO, became a publishing house. We started to publish books and organize events, festivals, concerts, and so on. In the beginning, the magazine was only in Italian, and then later, we produced it in English. The reasoning behind NERO was to do something which was not available—writing and talking about certain things we were interested in with the language that we wanted and couldn’t find, and working with the people around us. It was really about our community. For my work as a curator, this was very important—it’s like having a body with two different extensions, but they’re talking to each other. Working with people who aren’t in the art field is also important, because there is a constant pressure to question. That’s why this ongoing questioning is something that I also add, and the magazine played an essential role in that. While I was editing, I started to curate exhibitions. But honestly my real education has been the time I’ve spent with artists. I worked and spent lots of time with older artists. I was really moving in different directions simultaneously. I’m educated by different types of education. I don’t know if it’s a positive thing, but everything is based on intuition or feeling curious. But I also believe that this attitude is something that I wanted to keep within an institution, and for me that’s a big challenge.

I’m trying to not feel “corrupted” by “institutions”—sort of changing the way I was working, but not completely. I think it’s always good to be flexible and open. Being changed and affected constantly is something that I like. On a personal level, I’ve been trying to keep this attitude, especially when working with artists, and giving them the freedom to work within the institutional context in the same way as a non-institutional context.

LM

I read in another interview with you that you wanted to put viewers in an “unsafe” position within the institution. The Abteilung Adler, the Kunsthalle Wien’s Friends Group, nods to Marcel Broodthaers’s Musée d’Art Moderne, Départment des Aigles (1968–72), and seems to be a kind of institutional critique within the institution. I was wondering if you could talk about that and whether it was your initiative?

LLP

The Abteilung Adler is actually the result of an ongoing discussion and reflection on alternative ways of supporting the institution. Abteilung Adler is the name of a group of people who support our program, not only financially, but who are motivated to engage with issues that have defined our program. The money we raise is invested in our art education department and to promote participatory education projects.

AK

How do you navigate the language? How does this work for you in meetings within the institution and also externally?

LLP

It depends. The meetings with the whole team are held in German, so in the beginning someone kindly translated for me, and now I catch a bit, but not entirely. Sometimes I think it’s good not to understand.

AK

That’s true—I wish I didn’t understand most of what I see going on!
You were saying a bit about the public. I’m wondering who you consider your public—do you think of audience, public, and community all within the same registers?

LLP

It’s important to address those people who don’t know what the Kunsthalle Wien is, as well as those who have never been there. This is something difficult to get proof of, though obviously there are tools to verify visitor numbers. In terms of communication, the visual identity of the Kunsthalle Wien was designed by Boy Vereecken. He is based in Brussels and developed the identity—with these different types of eagles, which of course was an homage to Marcel Broodthaers and, at the same time, is a visible, recognizable symbol.

AK

It’s certainly flirting with different signifiers of power.

LLP

For each exhibition, we have a different version of the eagle serving as the voice and symbol for different individual projects.

AK

That’s interesting.

LLP

So far, that’s been very effective, so much so that we have people who say, “Ah, the eagle.” Sometimes the eagle is so cool for the younger audiences that they see the eagle but don’t match it up with the exhibition. We also invest a lot in the distribution of flyers and posters. I used to do the same with NERO when we were distributing it for free, and maybe it’s easier to do in a city like Vienna, which is not so big. In terms of profile, our audience is definitely a younger audience compared to other museums. A large percentage is also international.

AK

Tourists?

LLP

It’s interesting, because the typical tourist who visits Vienna goes to the Belvedere, Kunsthistorisches, and Secession. So, if they visit the Kunsthalle, it’s because they’re either already quite interested in contemporary art, or younger people who are interested in the visual communication or the way it appears to be a bit closer to their interests.

AK

And leaning on that, what other institutions do you feel the ethos of the Kunsthalle resonates with?

LLP

The Secession definitely; it’s an example close to me. It’s hard to answer because for me, I’ve always been fascinated by institutions where the voice of the artist has a strong presence. In my imagination, I’ve always thought of the Kunsthalle as an ideal institution in terms of freedom, having in mind classical examples like Harald Szeemann or Johannes Cladders. As a student, these were significant models for me. For example, in Vienna, there’s an institution called Museum in Progress, which was influential when I started because it’s a museum without a physical space. They work with artists for public projects—meaning billboards, newspapers, any sort of public-facing project. Museum in Progress is not widely known as an institution, but for me it has been very, very inspiring—maybe because I founded a magazine that was free, and so the idea of addressing a very different and heterogeneous public was crucial. What the Museum in Progress has done and continues to do is fantastic, because they think outside the box. You can have a museum without a physical space, working closely with the artists and allowing everyone the possibility to see art without paying. It’s just up to your curiosity. Of course, giving things away for free has a negative element too…

AK

That’s a wonderful answer.

TN

Thinking about how the structure works with artists, are they compensated for their work through commissions?

LLP

We have a fee that we give to artists who have solo exhibitions, and occasionally for artists in group exhibitions. I don’t know how it was before, but since I started working here, we’ve had an artist fee that is more or less fixed, but sometimes changes according to the budget.

AK

But you pay artists, and that’s a big thing. One of the reasons we ask that question is that the structure of institutions is really undergoing deep consideration in the United States with regards to payments of artists and art workers. This also raises questions of overall funding and issues of race, class, ability, and gender equity. I’m sure you’ve seen the protests that have been following the Whitney Biennials over the years and the most recent critiques. So, in U.S. institutions in particular, we’re thinking about accessibility and how those have ramifications deep within our institutional structures. Who’s working in them? Who’s being presented? How are they being paid? Do employees get maternity leave? All of these things aren’t automatically built into the system, especially because we’re not a social democracy, but also because many of these institutions are founded upon deep colonial traumas and class divides. How does our current dispensation deal with that and how do the people within institutions think about those things on structural levels? These are all topics which are very present in the dialogues with my U.S. colleagues.

LLP

Right, honestly, regarding this, we are kind of an exemplary institution. I’m almost amused by that, coming from Italy where the situation is very different. On that level, it’s really a safe island when you consider what’s happening in Austria at this moment. The point is, what will happen? Already, we have people on furlough—it allows people in public office to work for twelve hours, so the four additional hours are not paid as extra. This is a huge thing.

AK

That’s huge—it’s a problem. But thinking about going forward and what will happen, I’d love to hear what’s really exciting as you look ahead. Do you see yourself at the Kunsthalle for another five years, or is this part of a larger project for you moving on elsewhere?

LLP

In another five years? Honestly, I don’t think so.

AK

And that’s okay; everyone has a timeline about where they want to be…

LLP

I tend to live following a carpe diem kind of style. On one hand, when you work in an institution, you have to compromise with a lot of people. It responds to where you are and you have a chance to give viewers a sense of an identity and shape something. But if you work freelance, you cannot do this. At the same time, considering what we were talking about before, I’m imagining if it’s possible to think and work within something that’s decidedly different—finding ways to not work in a simplistic, dualistic condition. So, something that is “in-between.” I like when things are always kind of slippery, when I feel that I’m not completely in control of it. And this is also true of artists that I like to work with, that they have this sense of instability. I think it would be great to find a way to develop something which can be mid-size without a big budget. I’ve always thought that money is not the main thing or priority; at the same time, to produce something it seems you always have to depend on private money. Now more than ever, it’s increasingly difficult to get financial funding without there being some expectation of concrete returns.

AK

Right.

LLP

It’s always a compromise, but that’s why I believe certain projects developed within universities are very intriguing. A project like the Artist’s Institute by Anthony Huberman is a good example in this regard. The University in Vienna has invited Adam Szymczyk, the curator of Documenta 14, to develop a project. It’s thought-provoking, because we use the language of workshops, but this is not always exactly correct because it’s not quite the same notion of “workshop” in dance or other genres as in the art context. Maybe that could be an exciting way.

AK

You’re speaking our language. That’s at the core of why we’re doing this project and trying to think about the boxes that we put ourselves in. I’m personally interested in how we can reclaim the institute as another form of knowledge production that isn’t necessarily defined by university classrooms, or is maybe not attuned solely to making an exhibition, but thinking about how we can seize the linguistic potential of what we do.

LLP

And again, involving artists in this debate is essential.

AK

Of course.

LLP

I believe that certain artists can help you to think about, as well as look at things, from manifold different perspectives. Sometimes it’s about the exhibitions and projects developed by curators, but most of the time—maybe 80% of the time—it’s by artists or people not in the art world. That’s why it’s indispensable to have guests at the table.

AK

I like that idea of guests at the table.

LLP

Personally, the ongoing dilemma seems to be that we’re always discussing what an institution is—in any kind of context, especially at art fairs, which is weird for me. But then it seems that these issues that we discuss, when you try to translate them into daily life as professionals, they tend to dissolve. I think of what you’re doing as something where I see this—there is a big gap between how much we’re overwhelmed by discussions about certain problems, urgent issues, and about reality—and things cannot become effective immediately. For me, that’s a problem.